Ambiguity over Opp. Leader post needs to be addressed in drafting a new Constitution - Speaker | Daily News


Ambiguity over Opp. Leader post needs to be addressed in drafting a new Constitution - Speaker

The ambiguity with regard to the Opposition Leader’s post is a matter that needs to be addressed in drafting a new Constitution, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya told Parliament yesterday.

The Speaker, making a special statement in response to the matters raised by TNA Leader R. Sampanthan on the Opposition Leader’s post, said that a remedy to the issue could not be found within the confines of the present Constitution and the Standing Orders.

“In my ruling, delivered on 08th January 2019, I have not in detail touched upon the subject of conflict of interest pointed out by Sampanthan. The recognition of MP Mahinda Rajapaksa was not consequent upon any request from the UPFA General Secretary, but because of the age old convention of this House that the Speaker should recognize the Leader of the Parliamentary Group of the recognized Political Party having the largest number of Members sitting in the Opposition, as the Leader of the Opposition,” the Speaker clarified.

“After UPFA ceased to be a Party forming the national government and having officially decided to sit in the Opposition, it was my duty to recognize UPFA as the Party having the largest number of Members sitting in the Opposition,” he added.

“The fact that the Executive President belongs to a Party, which is not the majority Party in Parliament to which the Prime Minister belong is not a new experience or a situation in our country. There was time when D.B. Wijetunga was the President in our country, during which time Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was the Prime Minister. At the relevant time, Gamini Dissanayake followed by Ranil Wickremesinghe, both of whom belonged to the UNP had been recognized as the Opposition Leader.

During the said period, D.B. Wijetunga held several ministerial portfolios. Then again, during the Presidency of Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremasinghe became the Prime Minister and Ratnasiri Wickremanayake and Mahinda Rajapaksa served as the Opposition Leader. At the particular time, Chandrika Kumaratunga held several ministerial portfolios. Therefore, it is quite clear that this is not a new phenomenon and this situation has arisen in the past as well,” the Speaker explained. “Even though Sampanthan strives to draw a parallel between the House of Commons of United Kingdom and Parliament of Sri Lanka, such a parallel cannot be drawn for the reason that the UK Parliament is constituted on the Westminster Model and the Sri Lankan Constitution provides for an Executive President elected by the people. The Constitution does not preclude the President from appointing a Member from an Opposition Party as a Cabinet Minister. In such a situation to deny a Party its right to function as an Opposition Party cannot be accepted,” the Speaker observed.



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